Really, there are WAY too many activities on Oahu too choose from!
If you’re in Hawaii on a budget, there are plenty of free or cheap things to do that can make for a memorable vacation.
But if you have some extra room in your budget after buying your flight to Hawaii and booking your hotel in Waikiki, then these paid Oahu tours can definitely make your Hawaii vacation even more memorable!
And these experiences might even become the single best thing you during your first trip to Hawaii.
What are the best tours on Oahu that you MUST consider?!
There are affiliate links below. You should totally check out the reviews of these Oahu tours.
1. Swimming with tropical marine life
Well you know that Hawaii is known for its marine life.
That could be turtles, it could be dolphins, it could be schools of colorful fish.
You have options on how you want to see underwater life, and whichever you choose, it’s sure to be a memorable part of your vacation.
Snorkeling in Hawaii is among the top things to do during a first trip to the Hawaiian islands.
And you could make it snorkeling with turtles and swimming with dolphins!
Or, if you prefer not to get wet or you prefer to see the ocean wildlife from the comfort of a seat, you can also go for an underwater submarine tour.
Free snorkeling on Oahu?!
There are some snorkeling spots on Oahu that you can swim with colorful tropical fish, and maybe see some turtles swimming if you’re lucky.
You can try Queen’s Beach in Waikiki or Shark’s Cove on the North Shore for free beaches. Hanauma Bay, among the best beaches on Oahu, is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the island, although there’s a small fee.
With a snorkeling tour that’s dubbed for seeing specific marine life, you’ll have a better chance at seeing the turtles or dolphins that will really get you excited. (And you almost certainly won’t be seeing any dolphins at these snorkeling spots.)
2. Surf lessons for beginners
This is another one you should really consider.
You are in Hawaii after all!
You can find world-class waves in Hawaii, so it can only be fitting that you learn to surf in the very place that world-class surf competitions take place.
There are even week-long surf camps in Hawaii.
But when you just want to get a taste for surfing, there are surf lessons that will only take up half of your day too.
The North Shore of Oahu is THE spot for surfing in the winter, and you can find lessons there throughout the year.
But if you’re staying in Waikiki and Honolulu, it’s about an hour’s drive up to the North Shore.
So if you want to stay closer to your Waikiki hotel, then you can get surf lessons right on Waikiki Beach too.
3. Helicopter tour
So it can be an experience to see Hawaii underwater, and it can be a true experience to see Hawaii from above, too!
You can stay on Oahu and take a scenic helicopter ride to see Oahu’s varied landscape from above of the ocean, mountains, and waterfalls.
You can also take a day trip to Kauai (you’ll fly by plane from Honolulu to Kauai), and then you can take a scenic helicopter ride over some of the most picturesque parts in all of Hawaii like the Napali coast and Waimea Canyon.
4. Day trip from Oahu to another Hawaiian island
Well, speaking of day trips, you might as well consider the other islands too!
Each of the Hawaiian islands offer something different.
While there is definitely enough to do to spend your time only on Oahu, if you want to get a glimpse of another Hawaiian island, well, there’s a tour for that!
This will let you see the highlights of another island for a jam-packed day. (So be prepared for a long day!)
5. Oahu circle island tour
And seeing the highlights on the island of Oahu is another option!
Free circle island drive?!
Well, it’s not exactly free since you need to rent a car, but you can save some money by doing your own DIY circle island tour with a car rental.
You won’t get to know Oahu and Hawaiian culture as well as you would with a guide, but it can be an option if you want to go around the island but also spend your money on another worthy Oahu tour!
6. Pearl Harbor tour
Pearl Harbor is one of the top visited places in Hawaii for a reason!
You can go for the full Pearl Harbor experience with a tour.
Do you need a tour at Pearl Harbor?!
It’s totally possible to visit Pearl Harbor without a tour.
And it can be a worthy experience even if you don’t have a guide.
You can walk around the commemorative circle and visit the museum to read through the events that transpired.
But as with all things, you can get a better understanding of the history and the context of the Pearl Harbor attack, so in a situation like this, it could be worth it to have a guide.
And you may also consider reading up on the history of the connected events of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb attack and the Pearl Harbor attack before you go. You can have a greater appreciation for being at Pearl Harbor that way.
Check price: for families with kids or full day tour
7. Whale watching tour
The other marine life you can see when in Hawaii are whales!
If you’ll be on Oahu during whale season, you might want to go for a whale watching tour!
Generally speaking, whale season in Hawaii is from November to March.
BUT, remember that this is nature, so the whales can’t be forced to make an appearance just because you show up. 😉
And since there really is no guarantee of whale sightings, combining the whale watching with another activity that you’d enjoy could minimize your disappointment in case you don’t see whales.
Check price: boat + whales or boat + snorkel + whales
Boat cruise + whale watching
You can try this boat cruise, with an upgrade possible to have it with a meal. As per another reviewer, they might offer you a free trip the next day if you fail to see any whales on the day of your tour.
Boat ride + snorkeling and swimming with dolphins + whale watching
You can also make whale watching a real side thing by going for a snorkeling boat tour with the chance to swim with wild dolphins too – and then be happy if you see whales! That would be this snorkel boat tour.
Free whale watching?!
Without a tour, you can try testing your luck at one of the best hikes on Oahu on the Makapuu lighthouse hiking trail.
It’s a coastal trail that’s been known to have whale sightings. Although you will likely have better luck and be able to get closer on a tour, you can check out this hike if you aren’t interested in the tour.
8. Oahu photographer’s tour
It’s not news to you that the Hawaiian islands have sooooo many picture-worthy scenic spots.
And Oahu is no exception!
There are places all around the island, and if you’re a hobby photographer or you just like to take pretty pictures with you phone, you might like a tour in which you can spend all day going to a bunch of these places!
Well, you’ll have opportunities for pretty pictures on the Oahu circle island tour too, but going on a tour specific to photographers might be able to get you a few extra worthy shots!
What to pack for Hawaii?!
- Sun shirts with UV protection (for women and for men) so you have to wear less sunscreen
- Popular water shoes (for women and for men) for the hidden rocks on the beach
- This standard snorkeling set
- This CHEAP way to make your phone waterproof so you can take amazing underwater photos!
- This type of waterproof pouch so you don’t need to leave valuables on the beach
- Sunscreen that’s NOT a part of the Hawaii sunscreen ban
And for hiking in Hawaii…
- Hiking sandals (for women and for men) will do for most trails in Hawaii!
- But trail running shoes (for women and for men) or hiking shoes (for women and for men) work too!
And don’t forget the absolute BEST guide to making the most out of your Hawaii vacation – available for every Hawaiian island
HAPPY OAHU TOURING!
If you're headed to Hawaii soon, see some ideas for top snorkeling essentials to pack for Hawaii, including why people wear a rash guard for snorkeling. And for Oahu travel tips, see this 3 day itinerary, this 2 week itinerary, and then some more things to do on Oahu.
And if you're headed to the Big Island, be sure to see things to do on the Big Island along with this 7 day itinerary that includes black sand beaches, waterfalls, a lava cave hike, turtles, beautiful beach hikes, and tons of scenic drives!